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Talking Budget Fairness with Leon Delaney

I spoke on 2SM today with Leon Delaney about the fact that the Abbott Government may be strong at standing up to the weak, but it’s weak at standing up to the strong.





SUBJECT/S: Budget cuts; Means testing; Expenditure on Joint Strike fighter; Superannuation; Pensions.

LEON DELANEY, PRESENTER: I said at the beginning of the show today, I’ve never seen a scare campaign like it. It’s most unusual, in fact unique, because it is a scare campaign being conducted by the Government against itself, basically. We’re being told to be fearful of what might be in the Budget in a couple of Tuesdays away from now. So that’s very, very strange, very unusual. We almost don’t need the Opposition to tell us to worry about it because the Government is telling us to worry about it. Nevertheless I thought we should find out what the Opposition thinks. On the line now, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh. Good morning


DELANEY: How are you today?

LEIGH: I’m very well, how are you?

DELANEY: Very well thanks. There’s almost nothing for you to do because Joe Hockey’s doing all the scaring for you isn’t he?

LEIGH: You put it very nicely. Yes, Mr Hockey is good at one thing in the area of manufacturing, and that’s manufacturing a budget crisis. I think he wants people to forget that last year he did the deal with the Greens for unlimited debt, he said ‘no’ to 50 tax measures that Labor had put in place, and he gave $9 billion to the reserve Bank that they hadn’t asked for. Now he’s standing around saying, lo and behold, there are fiscal problems, when he’s doubled the deficit.

Continue reading ‘Talking Budget Fairness with Leon Delaney’ »

Territory Govt leads the way, working with the ACNC to benefit charities – Press conference transcript



SUBJECT/S: ACT Government working with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission to help charities.

FEDERAL ASSISTANT SHADOW TREASURER, ANDREW LEIGH: Thank you everyone for coming along. I’m Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, and I’m here with ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr, Mike Zissler from Lifeline, and Lyn Harwood from Communities@Work. We are here at [Lifeline shopfront] Hipsley Lane to talk about the importance of Canberra charities and the importance of reducing the paper work burden. When Labor was in government we put in place in 2012 the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. One of the aims of that Commission was to reduce reporting duplication that charities face; to allow those charities to spend less time doing paperwork and more time helping the vulnerable. We’ve now found that as a result of the ACT ceding its reporting requirements to the ACNC, Canberra charities could save $2 million dollars. So, I’m calling on the Abbott Government to back the ACNC, to support Canberra charities and to get out of the way and reduce the paper work on our great Canberra charities. I’ll hand over to Andrew [Barr].

Continue reading ‘Territory Govt leads the way, working with the ACNC to benefit charities – Press conference transcript’ »

ACNC reduces costs for charities across the ACT – Wednesday 16 April, 2014

This morning I held a press event with ACT Treasurer, Andrew Barr, and leaders in the community sector – Lifeline Canberra CEO, Mike Zissler, and Lynne Harwood who heads Communities@Work –  to advocate to keep the charities commission and grow the benefits to charities. It’s great news and proof of the potential of the ACNC that the Territory Government is ceding many of its charity reporting requirements to the ACNC in the interests of streamlining reporting and reducing costs for charities. Other states are urged to follow the ACT’s lead.




ACNC reduces costs for charities across for the Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Government is cutting red tape to save up to $2 million a year for local charities by working with the first national independent charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC).

But ACT Treasurer and Community Services Minister Andrew Barr said that can only continue if the Commonwealth Government listens to the pleas of the charitable sector and keeps the ACNC.

“If the Commonwealth commits to keeping the ACNC, the ACT Government will legislate so that charities and other incorporated associations do not need to duplicate reporting made to the ACNC,” Minister Barr said.

“This ‘report once, use many’ principle will reduce the regulatory burden on charities.”

“Only a national regulator can provide a one-stop shop and reduce reporting duplication for charities that work and fundraise across states and territories.”

“It is impossible for one level of government by itself to reap the full savings benefit that co-operation with the ACNC promised. By working together, both regulatory red-tape and funding agency red-tape can be reduced for the sector.’

Federal Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Dr Andrew Leigh, who has portfolio responsibility for the ACNC, again called on the Abbott government to reverse its decision to abolish the regulator.

“The ACT Government’s cooperation with the ACNC demonstrates how the reporting burden can be reduced for Canberra charities – allowing them to spend more time building community and helping the vulnerable.”

Continue reading ‘ACNC reduces costs for charities across the ACT – Wednesday 16 April, 2014’ »

Breaking Politics – Monday, 14 April

In my usual media spot on Mondays with the Liberal’s Andrew Laming and Breaking Politics host, Chris Hammer, topics up for debate were the spectre of raising the pension age to 70 and flagged federal budget cuts to the CSIRO. Here’s the full transcript:



SUBJECT/S: Joe Hockey’s budget and cuts; Age Pension, CSIRO, the ABC and SBS; Superannuation and inequality; Unfair PPL Scheme, Trade and Foreign investment

CHRIS HAMMER: Well the budget is now less than a month away and Treasurer, Joe Hockey, is talking tough. His given the clearest signal yet that he intends to raise the pension age to 70, but perhaps not in this term of government. Joining me to discuss that and other matters, budgetary and otherwise, I’m joined by Andrew Leigh, the Federal Labor member for Fraser here in the ACT, and Andrew Laming, the Liberal member for Bowman in Queensland. Good morning. Andrew Laming, let me start with you. Should the pension age be raised to 70?

ANDREW LAMING: Well, obviously the pension age is already changing from 65 to 67 over the next decade and Andrew Leigh has long made that very important point that with longevity in Australia that period between retirement and expected length of life only continues to increase. So this is a debate that brave politicians will continue to have. I think that the pace at which it’s increasing, a couple of years per decade, is thoroughly reasonable and of course we’ve also got the life expectancy figures to back those calculations.

HAMMER: Whatever the merits of the policy though, this isn’t going to be a quick fix for the budget, is it, because we’re looking at so many years into the future?

LAMING: That’s correct. So, already these increases through to 2023 are continuing at a trajectory on from that date, obviously only helps the budget in the 2020s. It doesn’t help the budget right now.

HAMMER: Andrew Leigh, raising the pension to 70, is it a good idea, an inevitable idea?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well it was an idea ruled out Chris the day before the election by the Prime Minister who said ‘no changes to pensions’.

HAMMER: But I think he was referring to this term of government. If he goes to the next election saying ‘this is what we intend to do’, well that would be fine, wouldn’t it?

LEIGH: He certainly didn’t make that clear in his unequivocal statement the day before the election Chris. But the impact of this is that a scheme which was set up to avoid poverty among the elderly is now looking at being changed in a way that would increase poverty among the elderly. Andrew is right when he says that average life expectancy is rising but the other fact to bear in mind is that workers in manual jobs like check-out operators and cleaners find it tough to work till 70 and workers in those occupations will die on average six years younger than the most affluent Australians. So on life expectancy, there’s a big gap between most and least affluent and I’m really scared about what this broken promise will do to the most vulnerable Australians.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Politics – Monday, 14 April’ »

Talking budgets and pensions with Steve Price on 2GB

I joined Steve Price on 2GB to discuss how Joe Hockey has doubled the deficit, by scrapping sensible tax measures – and why it would be unjust for Prime Minister Abbott to break his promise to pensioners. Here’s a podcast.

Sky News with Helen Dalley

I joined presenter Helen Dalley on Sky News to discuss the fact that the Abbott Government has doubled the deficit since coming to office, and now looks set to breach its pension promise.

Newsradio interview transcript – 11 April, 2014

This morning I spoke to Marius Benson about what Treasurer Joe Hockey has signalled; a further increase in the pension age and more means testing of welfare.




SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s broken promise on the Age Pension; Free trade agreements; Unemployment; WA Senate; Australian Labor Party.

MARIUS BENSON, PRESENTER: Andrew Leigh, good morning.


BENSON: The economic outlook, certainly the employment outlook, did brighten noticeably yesterday.

LEIGH: Marius, there’s two ways of bringing down the unemployment rate. You can either have a whole lot of people find jobs or you can have a whole lot of people cease looking for jobs. Economists call the latter the ‘discouraged worker effect’ and given that the participation rate went down yesterday I think what we’re seeing is mostly people giving up unfortunately, rather than people moving from unemployment into employment.

BENSON: The unemployment figures are more complex than they look on the surface, but it did seem to cheer, at least, the Australian dollar. But everything connects, the dollar rose yesterday that makes life harder for our exporters who were thinking life might get easier as the result of a couple of free trade agreements over the past week or so. How important do you think those free trade agreements are when you look at the dollar going up a couple of cents?

LEIGH: A multilateral free trade agreement always beats a bilateral free trade agreement, so we’re in the world of the second-best once we’re striking country-to-country deals. This one seems to have attracted an unusual amount of criticism from agricultural groups: the National Farmer’s Federation saying that it falls short of the mark, cane growers saying that it’s a kick in the guts, Cattle Council disappointed, the Australia Pork Limited describing it as ‘a missed opportunity’. So that’s a surprising amount of critique from the agricultural sector about a deal which is principally on agriculture for Australian exporters.

Continue reading ‘Newsradio interview transcript – 11 April, 2014’ »

International experts praise Australia’s charities commission – Thursday, 10 April 2014

This afternoon I issued a media release that further strengthens the case to keep the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. Experts in Australia for the 6th International Charity Regulators Conference and Forum have praised the work of the new regulator and challenged claims that it is heavy handed and tying organisations in red-tape.






International praise for threatened national charities commission

International charity experts gathering in Melbourne and Sydney this week have praised Australia’s first but threatened national charity regulator for its strong and positive reputation in the sector and high compliance rates.

Experts visiting Australia for the 6th International Charity Regulators Forum have also challenged Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews’ view that the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) is heavy handed and tying organisations in red-tape.

Chief Legal Officer with the Charities Commission based in London, Kenneth Dibble, said the ACNC has had “extraordinary” success just 18 month since its inception:

“Introducing new regulations from scratch requires persuasion, good will and real interaction with charities and not for profits.  The ACNC has a mature relationship with the sector as a standalone regulator outside of the revenue office. It is flexible and sensitive to its constituency’s needs in a way that allows the sector to thrive. In such a short time the ACNC has commanded such respect from the sector. It’s very impressive.” – Kenneth Dibble, Chief Legal Officer, Charities Commission (for England and Wales)

Continue reading ‘International experts praise Australia’s charities commission – Thursday, 10 April 2014’ »

THE BOLT REPORT – Transcript – Sunday, 6 April 2014



Subjects: WA Senate election, the Federal Budget and speeches by Glenn Stevens and Martin Parkinson; the Age Pension; Taxing multinationals; DisabilityCare; Gonksi; and Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.
HOST ANDREW BOLT: Tony Abbott may have dodged a bullet in yesterday’s re-run Senate election in Western Australia. Both the Liberals and Labor did have swings against them, with support going instead to the big winners – the Greens and Clive Palmer’s party. The Nationals are just about finished. Result? Well, it’s early days in the counting but the signs are no change from the original result last year. The Liberals get three seats, Labor and the Greens one each, and the last going to Palmer. But that third Liberal seat may yet go to Labor. Joining me is Andrew Leigh, the Opposition’s assistant treasury spokesman. Andrew, thank you for your time.
BOLT: There have been three elections since you’ve lost last year’s federal election – the by-election for Kevin Rudd’s seat, the Tasmanian state election and now this Senate vote. Labor went backwards each time. Why is that? And what must change?
LEIGH: Well, Andrew, as I read the results in Western Australia at the moment, we’re seeing swings away from both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. A slightly bigger swing away from the Liberal Party than from Labor. I’m still confident we’ll get both Joe Bullock and Louise Pratt up, because I think they would both make excellent senators. And, you know, we have a challenge in rebuilding the party, but I’m really optimistic under Bill Shorten we’ll be able to do that.
BOLT: But the fact that the vote’s gone down each time, you don’t read a warning sign in that?
LEIGH: This is a very unusual by-election, Andrew. This – we’ve never really had a re-run of a Senate election and turn-out was always going to be a challenge. I think we’ve seen, possibly, the Liberal Party not getting a third Senator. If that happened, that would be the first time that happened in a quarter of a century. But we’ll see as counting proceeds.

2CC interview with Mark Parton – Thursday, 3 April

This morning I joined Mark Parton and Liberal Party Senator Zed Seselja for a feisty discussion about the budget and the public service in the context of a wide ranging speech delivered last night by Treasury head, Martin Parkinson. Here’s the audio to listen to.

Pre-budget discussion on ABC NewsRadio – Monday, 31 March

As the Treasurer receives the final report of the Commission of Audit – a document set to guide the drafting of the Abbott Government’s first budget – I spoke this morning to the ABC’s Marius Benson about secrecy surrounding cuts expected in the upcoming May budget. Listen to the NewsRadio podcast here.

National Press Club address – Australian Egalitarianism Under Threat – Thursday, 27 March 2014

Addressing the National Press Club, I talked about a generation of rising inequality, how the Abbott Government’s policies will affect inequality and the importance of maintaining Australia’s egalitarian ethos (download audio; iTunes podcast):


Battlers and Billionaires: Australian Egalitarianism Under Threat*

National Press Club Address



In 2002, two bombs exploded in Bali nightclubs, killing and injuring hundreds of people. At the local hospital, there was a shortage of painkillers. Graeme Southwick, an Australian doctor on duty, asked patients to assess their own pain levels. He kept being told by patients in the ‘Australian’ ward that they were okay – the person next to them was suffering more.

Coming across this account, historian John Hirst was reminded of the description of injured Australians in Gallipoli nearly a century earlier. He quotes the official war historian Charles Bean, who describes the suffering and then says, ‘Yet the men never showed better than in these difficulties. The lightly hurt were full of thought for the severely wounded.’

Even in the midst of their own pain, the first instinct of many Australians was to think of those worse off than themselves.

Continue reading ‘National Press Club address – Australian Egalitarianism Under Threat – Thursday, 27 March 2014’ »

MEDIA RELEASE – Bradbury to lead international tax policy division – 25 March 2014

This morning I issued a release congratulating Federal Labor’s former Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury for his new strategic leadership role with the OECD.







Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has warmly congratulated former Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury on his appointment to a strategic role with the  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD undertook a competitive and global selection process to choose Mr Bradbury as the new head of the Tax Policy and Statistics Division based in Paris.

From next month Mr Bradbury will be in charge of raising the profile of tax policy analysis work at the OECD.

“David has an international reputation for his strong leadership and understanding of the taxation of multinational enterprises. He and Wayne Swan led the Australian debate on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and modernising Australia’s transfer pricing laws.”

Mr Bradbury, a former tax lawyer, was Assistant Treasurer under the previous Labor Government, with responsibilities in including taxation reforms. He was instrumental in establishing Australia’s first and vital national regulator of the not-for-profit sector.

“I congratulate David and wish him well in his new and important role,” added Dr Leigh.


DOORSTOP Transcript – Thursday, 20 March 2014

With legislation going before the House of Representatives yesterday to repeal the charities commission, this morning I spoke to reporters in the Press Gallery to defend the important work of the ACNC.  Here’s the transcript:




SUBJECT/S: Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission; FOFA and Arthur Sinodinos; Qantas sale.

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Amidst their so-called ‘Repeal Day’ the Coalition brought forward the repeal of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. I say brought forward because the Coalition promised consultation: a consultation paper in February and extensive discussions with the sector. We haven’t seen any of that and that’s why more than 40 charities signed an open letter to the Government calling on them to rethink the scrapping of the charities commission.

The charities commission is important for donors who are vulnerable to door-to-door scams, if there isn’t an agency to report them to. It’s vital to the sector which appreciates the work the charities commission does. That’s why organisations as diverse as Save the Children, Lifeline, Hillsong Church, the RSPCA, and the Myer Foundation are calling on the Government to trash their laws to get rid of the charities commission and to hang on an organisation that’s supported by the sector.

I’ve heard people say the sector is split on this. It’s true. The sector is split on this. Four out of five charities support the charities commission. 94 per cent want the responsibilities to stay with the charities commission. Six per cent want them to go back to the tax office. So if the Government didn’t have a tin ear for consultation and if this process wasn’t being led by a Minister who’s much more driven by ideology than good public policy then they wouldn’t be pursuing this at all. They ought to put it aside and if they’re serious about scrapping red tape, hang on to a one-stop shop that’s working to reduce red tape for charities.

Continue reading ‘DOORSTOP Transcript – Thursday, 20 March 2014’ »

Keep the charities commission

In today’s Australian, I have an op-ed arguing that the government should keep the charities commission.

Scrap Charities Register, and Say Goodbye to Giving, The Australian, 20 March 2014

When doorknockers with a children’s education charity Care4Kids rang the doorbell of homes across Melbourne and Sydney, they got a warm reception.

Nearly a million dollars was raised for ‘work helping children with cancer, leukaemia, other illnesses and learning disabilities whose education has been compromised’.

But there have been questions raised about exactly how the money raised by the charity actually benefited children at risk; the people it was intended to help. There is little information to show exactly where the money went.

Alas, this is not an isolated incident. Formed at the end of 2012, the independent Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) received 202 complaints in its first year, including 48 for fraud or criminal activity.

This goes to show just how important a well regulated charitable sector is. In the same way that ASIC provides investors with the confidence they need to buy shares in companies, the ACNC provides donors with the confidence that registered charities are actually performing charitable works.

Continue reading ‘Keep the charities commission’ »

MEDIA RELEASE – Labor will continue to fight for charities commission – Wednesday, 19 March 2014

This morning I issued a media release arguing that the axing of the the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission would be a mistake. The Government’s repeal package is now before the parliament with a lot at stake for donors, consumers and charities. Today some of Australia’s best-known charities signed an open letter urging Tony Abbott to abandon plans to scrap the national regulator.







Federal Labor will continue to support the charity and not for profit sector and oppose any government attempts to repeal the Australian Charities and Not For Profit Commission (ACNC).

Today, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, 40 organisations say if the ACNC is shut down and the ATO is reinstated to determine who is and isn’t a charity, “red tape will continue to grow, the size of bureaucracy will grow. Services to the public will be reduced. Services to the sector will be reduced.” Signatories include Save the Children, St. John Ambulance Australia, The Ted Noffs Foundation, RSPCA, the Myer Family Company, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Volunteering Australia, Lifeline and many others.

The Abbott Government will sneakily include the ACNC in its so called ”repeal day” package.

In the week that the Government claims to be cutting red tape, it’s looking to kill an agency that does reduce red tape.

Continue reading ‘MEDIA RELEASE – Labor will continue to fight for charities commission – Wednesday, 19 March 2014’ »

Discussing Population on ABC The World Today – Thursday 13 March, 2014

I spoke with The World Today host Eleanor Hall about population and migration. A podcast of the interview is available here, and the transcript is below.




SUBJECT/S: Population; immigration; asylum seekers; taxation; budget sustainability

ELEANOR HALL: The Labor Party’s Assistant Treasurer is calling for a new debate on what has long been a contentious issue in Australia: the size of our population, which is now around 23.5 million. In a speech at the Lowy Institute today, Dr Andrew Leigh is calling for a more respectful and fact-based debate about the population and about immigration. He joined me earlier in the studio. Andrew Leigh, in your Lowy Institute talk today you argue that Australia should have a bigger population. How much bigger?

ANDREW LEIGH: Eleanor, I think picking absolute numbers is a mug’s game but I certainly think that we ought to be comfortable with current levels of population growth.

ELEANOR HALL: You say current levels of growth, so not a bigger population?

ANDREW LEIGH: The current levels of growth are a bit above the trend levels that we’ve had in the previous few decades, but principally I think we have the potential to be much more productive if we expand the number of innovative people coming to Australia.

Continue reading ‘Discussing Population on ABC The World Today – Thursday 13 March, 2014’ »

SPEECH – Axing charities regulator will hurt consumers – 4 March 2014

Last night I spoke in the Parliament about how Australia’s  first independent charities regulator is providing an important service to consumers and donors. Scrapping the Australian Charities and Not For Profits Commission will make members of the public more vulnerable to charity scams.

DR ANDREW LEIGH: In November last year police in Mackay alerted local residents to a scam that was taking place. Residents around Andergrove in the southern suburbs reported people doorknocking, posing as collectors for Autism Queensland. They were attempting to get bank details from vulnerable residents. Autism Queensland had no collectors in the area.

This story of scammers posing as charitable collectors is sadly not an isolated incident.

Last month, ABC’s 7.30 uncovered a children’s education charity which had received nearly $1 million in donations but could not or would not say where some of those funds have gone. In other developments, scammers targeted Australian households last year with emails asking people to donate to phony bushfire appeals.

I am passionate about standing up for consumers and I know my friend and colleague the shadow parliamentary secretary to the shadow Treasurer is too. If we are to stand up for the interests of consumers then we need an organisation that will report dodgy dealings by charities, and that organisation is the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

Continue reading ‘SPEECH – Axing charities regulator will hurt consumers – 4 March 2014’ »

Labor’s Legacy on Taxation, Superannuation & Healthcare

I spoke in parliament on a bill relating to tax, superannuation and health, and took the opportunity to talk about Labor’s legacy in these areas.

Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No. 1) Bill 2014, 4 March 2014

That all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

“whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading the House is of the opinion:

(1) that the government has made clear its intentions of creating a two tiered system of health care by hitting vulnerable Australians with extra out-of-pocket costs while considering further cuts to payments and support;

(2) that savings generated under this Bill must be reinvested to enhance health care affordability and universally accessible health care for all Australians; and

(3) that it was an Australian Labor Government that revolutionised health care in 1983 with the establishment of Medicare and will always defend the right of every Australian to universal, affordable and high quality health care.”

The Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 before the House goes to matters of taxation, superannuation and health care. They are matters with which Labor are strongly familiar, as the party that laid down many of the key foundations for our tax, superannuation and health-care system. We think typically of John Curtin as being the Prime Minister who brought the troops home to save Australia against the opposition of conservatives of the day. But as John Edwards’s splendid book Curtin’s gift also points out, one of the great enduring legacies of John Curtin was uniform income tax, a centre of Commonwealth power that is the substance of its fiscal policy effectiveness and which gives the Australian Commonwealth a unity of purpose through the taxation system. Labor is also the party that created universal superannuation and expanded universal superannuation – again, over the objections of conservatives of the day. Labor therefore support schedules 1 and 2 in the bill, which go to penalties for promoters of schemes that result in the illegal early release of superannuation funds and penalties for contraventions relating to self-managed superannuation funds.

Continue reading ‘Labor’s Legacy on Taxation, Superannuation & Healthcare’ »

MEDIA RELEASE – Zero public consultation as Govt prepares to scap Charities Commission – Friday 28 February

Last Friday, I issued a media release about my concerns that Minister Kevin Andrews has little regard for the views and experiences of charities who overwhelmingly want to keep the ACNC.






Friday, 28 February 2014


Senate Estimates hearings this week confirm that the Abbott Government’s promise to consult charities about its plans to abolish the charities regulator is hollow.

Minister Kevin Andrews promised charities a discussion paper on the future of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission by the end of January and a formal consultation process beginning this month.

It’s the end of February and nothing has happened.

The Minister has stopped listening and does not care to listen.

Continue reading ‘MEDIA RELEASE – Zero public consultation as Govt prepares to scap Charities Commission – Friday 28 February’ »

BREAKING POLITICS – Monday, 24 February 2014

Breaking Politics host, Chris Hammer, invited me and regular sparring partner Liberal MP Andrew Laming into the Fairfax Media studio to discuss this morning’s news.  Today’s agenda includes worrying reports that the Abbott Government may weaken legislation requiring companies to report on the gender of employees and progress of workplace gender equality measures.




SUBJECT/S: Manus Island; Cambodia and the Refugee Resettlement Agreement; G20 growth target and multinational profit shifting; Qantas future and jobs; Company gender reporting.

CHRIS HAMMER: One week after an Iranian asylum seeker died on Manus Island the story is still front page news. That’s largely because of Saturday, Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison that he had been misinformed and in turn had misinformed the public about what had happened last Monday night on Manus Island. Well, to discuss that and other issues, I’m joined by Andrew Leigh, the Labor Member for Fraser in the ACT and also Assistant Shadow Treasurer and Andrew Laming, the Liberal Member for Bowman in Brisbane.

Andrew Laming, to you first, it now seems highly likely that the Iranian asylum seeker died within the detention centre on Manus Island. Doesn’t that make his death wholly the responsibility of the Australian Government?

ANDREW LAMING: If that information’s correct it’s extremely alarming. Everyone would regret this occurrence from last week. Look, Scott Morrison’s a star minister. He’s provided information as soon as he reliably could. They’ll try and work out why he was potentially given incorrect information. Everyone will want absolute safety for those that are detained on Manus. I’m confident that that centre can achieve that and continue to be an important part of our border protection.

HAMMER: So, you’d concede that it is the Australian Government’s responsibility, the death in a sense -

LAMING: We’ll be a key player in getting to the bottom of that matter. And we are obviously responsible because we hire the contractors who run that camp.

Continue reading ‘BREAKING POLITICS – Monday, 24 February 2014’ »

Hockey must advance a crack down on global tax avoidance – Inside Canberra – 21 February

E-newsletter Inside Canberra has published my piece on the importance of reforming the international tax system. The context is the meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 grouping of nations gathering in Sydney. International tax avoidance is a key agenda item.
International tax rules are not keeping pace with changes in the digital age and the realities of doing business in our globalised world. Rapid and dramatic shifts in global economic activity, driven largely by e-commerce, pose very real and significant risks to Australia’s corporate tax base and the tax bases of countries right around the world.
Multinational companies can take advantage of slow-moving tax laws by shifting profits to low-tax countries. This is particularly true for digital companies that don’t sell physical goods. This has obvious implications for tax revenue: companies avoiding their fair share of tax mean higher taxes or reduced services for you and me. Equally important, however, is the disadvantage incurred by local businesses which lack either the savvy or the scale to implement these complex taxation avoidance schemes.

MEDIA RELEASE – G20 is opportunity to bring international tax rules into 21st century – 18 February 2014

Ahead of the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs from major economies in Sydney at the end of the week, I have called on the Abbott Government to get serious about tightening tax rules so that multinational corporations pay their fair share.  For the first time Australia has a decision making role at the G20 and Labor urges the  Government to use the occassion to make sure it produces concrete actions rather than a series of platitudes.



Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has called on the Treasurer to show strong leadership at G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting this week to achieve global action to crack down on multinational corporations that pay little or no taxation at all.

“Since coming to office, the Abbott Government has talked a big game on multinational profit-shifting. But all it has done is to water down Labor’s sensible reforms that ensure multinationals pay their fair share,” said Dr Leigh.

“On 14 December 2013, Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos announced that it would abandon a $700 million measure to prevent multinational firms reducing their tax bill.

“On 4 January 2014, Senator Sinodinos said he was considering abandoning measures that required 200 of Australia’s largest firms to disclose their total income, taxable income and tax paid.

“The Coalition seems to favour loopholes and secrecy – not fairness and transparency.

“It’s not fair that under existing rules global firms can siphon profits earned in Australia to low-taxing countries.

Continue reading ‘MEDIA RELEASE – G20 is opportunity to bring international tax rules into 21st century – 18 February 2014’ »

Breaking Politics – Transcript – Monday, 17 February 2014

Today I joined Chris Hammer, host of Fairfax Media’s Breaking Politics, for a wide-ranging discussion about this morning’s news including the upcoming meeting of G20 finance ministers in Sydney. Labor hopes Joe Hockey will use the meeting to tackle multinational profit shifting in order to maintain Australia’s tax base.



SUBJECT/S: Fairfax-Nielsen poll; unemployment; farmers’ assistance; G20 Finance Ministers; IMF report and the economy.

CHRIS HAMMER: By any measure last week was not a good one for the Government. On Monday Toyota announced it was going to no longer going to make cars in Australia and by Thursday unemployment figures were out showing that the jobless rate at increased to six per cent, the highest rate in a decade. And yet when Nielson polled voters between Thursday and Saturday last week the results were very good for the Government. On the two-party preferred vote, the Government is leading 52 to 48 per cent, that’s the Government up four point, the Opposition down four points from last November. And perhaps most worrying of all for the Labor Party, Bill Shorten’s approval rating is down a full 11 per cent to 40 per cent. To discuss the poll and other matters, I’m joined by Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Member for Fraser in the ACT.

Andrew, why is Labor not doing better in the polls?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Chris, I would expect the polls to jump around like a healthy ECG for the best part of the next three years. I’d say that political discourse wouldn’t be damaged if we are to leave the polls on page 17 where they belong. That’s an argument I’ll make when Labor’s up and when Labor’s down in the polls. Fundamentally we need to be concerned about economic figures, such as the jobs figures. These new job figures that have come out not only show that unemployment is at an 11 year low, but also show that the participation rate is at an eight year-low. So, many people are giving up looking for work and the loss in the full-time jobs has just been staggering: one every three minutes since the Government came to office and I think, leaving many Australians saying ‘this is a Government without a plan for jobs creation’ in the wake of some significant manufacturing job losses.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Politics – Transcript – Monday, 17 February 2014’ »

SPEECH – Transparency essential to grow the charity sector – 13 February, 2014

Yesterday in the House of Representatives I raised concern about the Government’s intention to abolish the charities regulator.




Dr ANDREW LEIGH: An alarming story on the 7:30 Report last night highlighted the need to keep the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. The ABC uncovered a children’s education charity which has received nearly $1 million in donations but cannot or will not say where some of the funds have gone. The ACNC shines a light on bad behaviour in the sector as well as strengthening charities and celebrating exemplary work.

The Australian public deserves and needs a charities regulator that provides them with confidence in the charities they donate to and receive services from and provide tax deductions to. Why can’t this government understand that transparency and accountability are keys to the growth of the charity sector in Australia?

The fact is that the government has a tin ear for dialogue with the charitable sector. In wishing to abolish the commission, Minister Andrews is going against the vast majority of informed voices in the sector, four out of five of whom want to keep the ACNC.

The sector supports an independent regulator as a one-stop shop to strengthen charities, grow their profile, harmonise fundraising law and reduce red tape over time and, despite the government’s rhetoric about red tape, the reverse is true. The government should be working to support charities and charities deserve better than a back-to-the-future approach.

OPINION – Charities regulator working well and must stay – Thursday, 13 February 2014

ProBono Australia News this morning published my opinion piece on why the Abbott Government would be foolish to axe the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. The online news service also produced a story confirming that Commission staff have been offered voluntary redundancies as part of a major public service jobs cutting move by the Tax Office.


Government Should Keep the Australian Charities Commission

Over recent weeks, we’ve heard a lot from the Abbott Government about the need for transparency and accountability. These are worthy values; the public interest is rarely served by secrecy and the lack of a proper complaints process.

So it is surprising that those who believe in open government want to abolish the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC): a body that handles complaints and ensures charities are transparent and accountable.

For decades, independent reports have made the case for an independent ACNC. It was after all a 2001 Howard Government report that concluded a Commission would provide “a clear and consistent accountability framework…to maintain and enhance public confidence in the integrity of charities and related entities”.

Created by Federal Labor, the ACNC is functioning well and in the public interest, actively working to protect public trust and confidence in charities. It has registered 2000 new charities in the past year, in addition to 58,000 existing organisations. And just as lawyers and doctors’ professional associations maintain their standing by investigating complaints, so too the Commission plays a similar role by looking into allegations of bad behaviour by charities.

Continue reading ‘OPINION – Charities regulator working well and must stay – Thursday, 13 February 2014’ »

MEDIA RELEASE – Abbott wrecking ball strikes the ATO – Saturday, 8 February 2104

This morning I issued a media release expressing concern about a big round of redundancies at the ATO, as the Government slashes public service jobs at an extraordinary rate.


News that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has offered 500 voluntary redundancies in its effort to slash 900 positions represents a broken promise that jobs would be shed only by natural attrition.
The Abbott Government promised cuts to the Australian Public Service (APS) solely through natural attrition. It’s a lie. Redundancies are now in full flow.

Coalition Going Weak on the Strong – 7 February, 2014

My op-ed in the SMH online looks at why we need to make sure multinationals pay their fair share of tax.

Tough tax talk short on action, Sydney Morning Herald Online, 7 February 2014

If your boss were to come to your desk and ask for you to arrange a double Irish Dutch Sandwich for him, you could be forgiven for thinking it would involve a trip to the local pub at lunch time. In fact, the double Irish Dutch Sandwich is a complex tax avoidance arrangement used by many multi-national companies involving Irish holding companies as the bread with a Dutch subsidiary wedged in between them as filling.

For tax division of a tax-minimising multinational, it might sound delicious. For the rest of us who have to foot the bill, the double Irish Dutch Sandwich is enough to give you a serious stomach ache. Because the more we let multinational firms avoid tax, the more the rest of us have to pay to maintain good services.

Continue reading ‘Coalition Going Weak on the Strong – 7 February, 2014’ »

MEDIA RELEASE – Abbott Government Should Keep the Charities Regulator – 6 February

This morning I issued a media release affirming the value of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission after the release of an ill-informed report into the commission by a conservative think-tank.






The Abbott Government Should Keep the Australian Charities Commission

Labor rejects the assertions in a Centre for Independent Studies report that the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC) should be scrapped.

The ACNC was created to ensure minimum levels of transparency and accountability in the sector. The Commission is actively working to protect public trust and confidence in Australian charities and not-for-profits.

Feedback from large and respected organisations confirm that the ACNC has been reasonable, responsive and accommodating in its dealings with them.

The CIS report calls for increased transparency at the same time as attacking the very body that is promoting transparency in the not-for-profit sector.

Continue reading ‘MEDIA RELEASE – Abbott Government Should Keep the Charities Regulator – 6 February’ »

Media Release – Concern over future of ATO regional offices – 20 January, 2014

Today I issued a media release about  internal Tax Office discussions regarding the potential closure of regional office across four states. I raise doubts about the Coalition’s commitment to regional jobs.

Shadow Assistant Treasurer
Media Release


Pressure is on the Abbott Government to explain if it’s committed to regional Australia after reports that the Australian Tax Office is likely to quit 10 regional sites across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

The ATO has flagged that it’s looking to close offices in Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Mackay,  Cairns, Port Macquarie, Grafton, Orange, Sale, Bendigo, and Launceston.

The regional centres have been run down for some years making the ATO’s decision appear a fait accompli.

Eighty staff and countless small businesses will be affected by this decision.

It’s a blow for regional communities and those families with ATO workers who face being forced to uproot and move to bigger centres or be sacked. This is no way to acknowledge hard-working regional teams.

The Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss claims to have a passion for regional Australia.  But what is the National Party getting out of the Coalition partnership if it can’t defend and keep regional services and regional jobs?

The ATO is a national organisation with national responsibilities. Does the Coalition value the ATO regional network or not?

The ATO’s Bunderberg office shut its doors earlier this month. It sets a bad trend for regional Australia amid increasing insecurity in the public service under Tony Abbott.